If you thought your training regimen touches upon the obsessive, then you haven't heard of Mark Covert of Lancaster, California. Now 56 and honorary chairman of the U.S. Running Streak Association (USRSA), Covert has run never missed a day of running in the last 38 years. According to the USRSA, a running streak is defined as, "running at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power (without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices)."
Covert's streak began 14,114 days ago as a 17 year old just out of high school. Last July, he set the new record for the longest consecutive running streak according to the USRSA. Currently, there are 61 runners who have running streaks of over 25 years. Jon Sutherland of West Hills, CA, trails Covert by only 307 days. After a visit to the USRSA website, I discovered 21 year old, Joel Pearson, from Mead WA, who has a streak of over 12 years which means that he has been running everyday since he was 9 years old!
Unlike these "streakers" who obviously don't mind a routine, many of us struggle when it comes time to wake up and go for a run in the morning. By creating our own simple routine or ritual, it becomes easier and easier to leave a warm bed and start running. Before your next early morning session, try gathering all of your clothing and equipment together in one place. This will help you get dressed and out the door faster and prevent wasted time and energy searching through the dark for your things. I have even found that measuring out my energy drink mix into my water bottle, on the eve prior, is a huge time saver. I wouldn't consider this behavior, "compulsive", as one could argue about the aforementioned athletes, but I do endorse a certain degree of preparedness to boost motivation. At the very least, try hitting the snooze button 1 less time tomorrow! Rise and Shine.
The Fartlek method is an age old running method that has been helping athletes progress for the past 50 years. Fartlek is a Swedish term for "speed play", and is a training method consisting of a series of sprints within your normal length run. These sprints are short bursts, usually 30 seconds in duration that occur as little as five times within a beginner?s 45 minute workout.
First, focus on a stationary object in the distance, like a tree or telephone pole, and then increasing your pace to somewhere about 70% to 90% of your maximum speed until you reach that landmark. At this point, you should return to your original pace as your heart rate and lactic acid levels restore themselves and recover for the next sprint. After about 5 to 8 minutes, you should be ready to begin your second burst. Once you begin to become stronger and fit, you can add up to an additional 5 sprint intervals to your workout.
This technique has proven to be very useful for a wide variety of strength and endurance athletes. By listening to your body, you decide how far, how fast and how long you will increase your intensity all the while continuing within the parameters of your normal workout routine.
Let’s first begin with this quick reference to get you up-to-date with the different race distances:
Sprint distance triathlon is a 0.45 mile swim (0.75-kilometer), a 13.2 miles bike ride (22K), and a 3.1 mile (5K run).
Olympic triathlon is the distance used at the Olympic Games: a 0.9 miles swim (1.5K), a 24 mile bike ride (40K), and a 6.2 miles run (10K).
Half-Ironman event is a 1.2-mile swim (about 1.9K), a 56-mile bike ride (89.6K) and a 13.1-mile run (21K).
Ironman event is a 2.4-mile swim (about 3.8K), a 112-mile bike ride (179.2K) and a 26.2-mile run (42K or a marathon).
The sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironman are the most traditional and mainstream triathlon events. The Ultraman World Championships is an event of epic proportions and is described as “an athletic odyssey of personal rediscovery; as such, they are the next step in the endurance challenge of being human.” The Ultraman World Championships event is a 6.2 mile (10 K) open ocean swim, a 261.4 mile (421 K) cross-country bike ride, and a 52.4 mile (84K) ultra-marathon run. This event takes place over two days where the 6.2 mile swim and 90 miles of the cycling leg are completed. The second day consists of the remaining 171.4 miles of cycling. The third and final day is devoted to the 52.4 (double marathon) run.
These endurance athletes are amazing! Through find raising and accomplishing such super-hero-like feats, most of the participants are racing to benefit a cause or some else. This altruistic approach is often the modus operandi that enables these athletes to endure such a high level if sustain activity.
All of this time, I thought a marathon was tough - I’m heading back to the drawing boards to re assess my priorities!
1. Specific: These goals are most clearly defined by the 6 “W” questions – Who, what, where, when, why. The answers to these questions will begin to bring your goals into focus.
2. Measurable: By establishing a system for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set, you will find increases in motivation by experiencing a sense of achievement when reaching the smaller incremental goals along the way. To prevent ambiguity and vagueness, make sure to incorporate a quantitative time frame allowing you to carry out those steps and feel successful.
3. Attainable: Once goals are identified and the incremental goals begin to be accomplished, the larger goals that used to seem far away, begin to grow closer as you grow as a person. It's truly amazing how one begins to figure out ways to make goals become reality. Previously overlooked opportunities manifest themselves and bring you closer to the achievement of your goals, all the while, new attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial strategies develop to help you to reach them.
4. Realistic: By truly believing that your goal can be accomplished, your goal will be realistic. This is something that you and you alone must decide. Be sure to set each goal as to represent ample growth. By following these guidelines, higher goals often prove to be easier to reach than lower goals because lower goals produce a lower level of motivational energy.
5. Timely: Goals should be set within a time frame with a starting point, ending point, and fixed intervals along the way. This will perpetuate a sense of urgency to act as target dates approach. Goals without deadlines tend to fade in importance and fall in rank of priority where less commitment is established.
So good luck to all you weekend warriors who are on your way to S.M.A.R.T goals!
+(Photo provided by Gettyimages / Photographer Gary S Chapman) +
More recently, a team of 3 ultra distance runners became the first modern runners to cross the 4,000 mile Sahara Desert. This was only made possible by running an amazing average of 2 marathons a day for 111 days!!!
American runner Charlie Engle, 44, Canadian Ray Zahab, 38, and Kevin Lin, 30, of Taiwan crossed the world’s largest desert while running through six countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Egypt. Their ultra effort was established to raise funds for H2O Africa, the charitable organization of Running the Sahara. These runners were able to prove the impossible was possible all while raising awareness of the world-wide water and sanitation crisis that, according to UN news officials, “causes nearly 2 million child deaths every year and holds back countries’ development, especially in Africa.”
A web site was implemented to track the progress of these runners while taking pledges and donations on a per mile basis. This epic journey was captured on film and will be made into a documentary by narrator and executive producer, Matt Damon. The film is scheduled to be released late 2007.
(Photo provided by the Associated Press, Photographer Jennifer Thermes)
Proper nutrition and diet are crucial components in the pursuit of one’s fitness goals. Even more important, is the last meal you eat before your big race. To maximize your potential, the type of food, quantity, and timing of this pre race meal must be considered.
Below is a general list of guidelines:
1. Timing: Most races take place in the early morning. If proper food intake has been consistent leading up to the race, then muscle stored glycogen will have sufficient levels to perform, despite a feeling of hunger. Since hunger will not hinder performance and it takes roughly 4 hours to properly ingest and digest a meal, it makes more sense to sleep during this time and wait until the race begins to start consuming energy fuels.
2. Size: If you do decide to wake up 4 hours before your race to eat, your pre-race meal should be composed of easily digested high complex carbohydrates between 200 - 400 calories. Stay clear of high fiber, simple sugar, and fat content. Stick with high starch foods like pasta, rice, plane bagels, oatmeal, banana and yogurt.
3. Hydration: After breakfast, an athlete should drink roughly 10-12 ounces of fluid per hour leading up to 30 minutes before the race. A sport drink containing both carbohydrates and protein is arguably the best mixture to use. A small amount of your supplemental fuel roughly five to ten minutes before your race is also recommended to boost blood glycogen stores to their optimal level.
4. Experiment: Incorporate these nutrition methods into your regular training schedule. By keeping a training journal and logging your intake which will allow you to try new combinations of foods and fuels in hopes of finding your perfect pre race meal.